Can You Drive with Bad Spark Plugs?

Bad Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are electromechanical devices that produce an electric current that ignites the fuel and air mixture in the engine cylinders.

Certainly, your engine cannot run without these because they are a significant part of the ignition system.

Over time, spark plugs can wear down, causing poor performance and sluggishness. Keep reading to know the answer to “can you drive with bad spark plugs?”

Can You Drive with Bad Spark Plugs?

Most car owners don’t realize that a bad spark plug can do major damage to their engine, but it’s true.

The spark plug provides a source of electricity for the spark, which is the source of flame that burns in the cylinder that causes the engine to run.

When a spark plug is malfunctioning, it will not perform efficiently, which will, in turn, give you numerous problems with your engine.

Such malfunctions include misfires, hard starts, reduced gas mileage, rough idling, and lack of acceleration.

If this isn’t bad enough, all of these issues can lead to expensive repairs, not to mention that driving with a faulty spark plug will be difficult because the engine might fail to function fully and then stop unexpectedly.

Indicators of a Bad Spark Plug

Spark plugs are designed to aid the flow of electricity from the ignition coil in your engine.

If your spark plugs become fouled or dirty, this can affect how your engine runs. Here are symptoms that are caused by a bad spark plug.

Lower Mileage

If your car’s gas mileage is declining and you can’t figure out why to take a look at the spark plugs.

Spark plugs are the component that ignites fuel within your engine, making them a crucial part of your vehicle’s operation.

When spark plugs start to deteriorate, they can cause harm to your engine overall.

If they don’t ignite the fuel properly, you might notice a decrease in your engine’s gas mileage – and an increase in how often you have to make trips to the gas pump.

Slow Acceleration

can you drive with bad spark plugs

Engine performance deteriorates when your spark plugs are fouled or dirty. When spark plugs are worn and dirty, your car’s performance suffers.

Due to this, your engine won’t perform as smoothly and efficiently. You should replace your spark plugs every 50,000 km or sooner if you notice a lack of response when stepping on the accelerator pedal.

Hard Starts

Ignition problems are often associated with worn spark plugs. These little devices are the primary energy source for combustion in an engine.

Vehicle owners may experience a rough start when the spark plugs fail. Generally, this problem occurs when they wear out because of their limited lifespan.

Rough Idling

It’s important to change the spark plugs in your vehicle regularly. If you notice any vibration or roughness when the engine is idling, it could be a sign that you need new spark plugs. Spark plugs don’t generally require much maintenance; they’re designed to last 100k miles.


Faulty spark plugs can make your car fail to start or run erratically due to improper combustion.

Misfires affect your car’s engine performance due to failing spark plugs that have no power to ignite the fuel-air mixture.

Your engine can also sound rough when idle. In addition, a failure such as a defective catalytic converter could happen if you delay proper repairs for your vehicle’s misfiring spark plugs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What damages your spark plugs?

Bad Spark Plugs

The key risk factors that lead to spark plug failure are spark plug gap setting, engine misfire, and driving conditions.

These factors create excess heat and carbon buildup inside the chamber of your engine. Ultimately the hot temperatures can cause premature spark plug degradation and failure.

How to restore oily spark plugs?

The spark plugs in your car will operate for a long time. You should check them periodically to remove moisture, dirt, carbon deposits, and other foreign particles. Here’s how to restore oily spark plugs.

  1. Take out the spark plug wires.
  2. Remove and pull the clamps off the hoses.
  3. Remove any wiring harness that may affect the removal of the valve cover.
  4. Use a screwdriver if the valve cover gets stuck.
  5. Remove and replace old spark tube gaskets.
  6. Apply a sealer on the new spark tube gaskets and place it on the spark plug tubes.
  7. Screw-in new plugs until they are tight and cannot move.
  8. Reattach the wires to their respective spark plugs; following the exact order; you removed them from their spots on the engine block.

What causes spark plugs to become wet?

You can run into serious trouble when attempting to start your engine multiple times without success in cold weather.

While this is most common in fouled spark plugs, condensation caused by water vapor inside the fuel system can affect ignition performance.

Multiple unsuccessful attempts at starting an engine can lead to engine flooding. This will soak the spark plug and prevent any spark from forming when the key is turned to the start position.

The best approach is either waiting for the spark plug to dry or removing it entirely and cleaning it off by hand.

What does an engine misfire sound like?

A misfiring engine means air and fuel are not burning properly in a small section of the engine, usually between 1,500 – 2,500 rpm, and stalling while driving.

So what does an engine misfire sound like? A general misfire can sound like: a popping, sneezing, banging, chuffing, or backfire while the car is running. If one cylinder isn’t firing, you will hear a distinct change in the engine sound as it cycles through its phases.

A misfire can make your car feel dragging in its performance. It will cause a noticeable difference in your car’s overall power and speed.

If you notice your car feeling like it can’t keep up with traffic or has a hard time starting, you could have a misfire issue.

Is it safe to keep driving if the engine misfires?

No. A vehicle engine misfire can be a scary experience. It will affect your car’s performance, but it is mechanically unsafe and may endanger you when driving on a busy road or highway. It can also lead to costly repairs that may not have been necessary.

What is the cost of repairing an engine misfire?

Anytime a car misfires, it is signaling that there is something wrong with the ignition.

You will have to pay for a repair or buy a new vehicle at some point in time. Specialized mechanic shops perform the vast majority of the diagnostic work.

They have modern machines and tools specifically designed to analyze and diagnose automotive ignitions, fuel systems, and emission control systems. For about $100 to $200, you can have the problem examined and fixed.

Can a faulty spark plug harm my engine?

Can a faulty spark plug harm my engine

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A car’s spark plugs are conductor elements and play an important role in generating combustion.

If a spark plug fails, the engine will misfire significantly, affecting the entire car’s performance.

It will also damage the exhaust system’s catalytic converter, and the combustion process will be incomplete.

Eventually, you might experience starting problems.

Can you drive with a misfire on only one cylinder?

It is not suggested to drive any vehicle with a misfiring cylinder is not suggested because this can result in irreversible engine damage.

Bad spark plugs or an imbalance of air or fuel mixture are the most typical causes of cylinder misfire.

You may be able to drive the vehicle for a short distance, but this is also quite dangerous.

What are intermittent misfires?

Intermittent misfires occur when the coil is no longer fed a constant fuel supply.

As a result, it misfires or backfires, creating unwanted engine backpressure and power loss that can quickly escalate into a more serious problem.

This can cause engine overheating, fouling of spark plugs, or poppet valves from raw gasoline, and sometimes even hard starting.

Will faulty spark plugs activate the check engine light?

Yes. It is a common issue due to worn spark plugs. Worn spark plugs can cause issues with your vehicle’s check engine light.

It is because bad spark plugs can cause your engine to misfire, which will trigger the check engine light to turn on.

Driving with Bad Spark Plugs

By now, you should know the answer to, “can you drive with bad spark plugs?”. Malfunctioning spark plugs generate weak sparks and misfires, which will cause your engine to lose performance dramatically.

Driving with a faulty spark plug may cause engine problems like misfires or hard starts.

Your car may have no acceleration, rough idling, and harsh shifting. These symptoms indicate that it is time to replace the spark plugs before they permanently damage your engine.

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